Attention, reporters: Income disparity doesn't just happen

I've read several articles this morning about new Census figures that show “The income gap between the richest and poorest Americans grew last year to its widest amount on record.” Some are short; some are long -- but they've all had the same flaw: None even attempt to identify government policies that may contribute to the widening gap between rich and poor.

This nearly-900-word Associated Press article, for example, notes that the new data comes during the debate over whether to extend President Bush's tax cuts for those making more than $200,000 a year -- but doesn't address the question of whether those tax cuts contributed to the increasing gap between rich and poor. This despite the fact that the article quoted a representative of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which found in June that Bush's tax cuts “exacerbated income gaps”:

Legislation enacted under the Bush Administration provided taxpayers with about $1.7 trillion in tax cuts through 2008. Because high-income households received by far the largest tax cuts — not only in dollar terms but also as a percentage of income — the tax cuts have increased the concentration of after-tax income at the top of the spectrum.

It's great to see income inequality getting some media attention. But it isn't enough to tell people that such inequality exists. News organizations should also make an effort to assess why it is increasing and what steps could be taken to stop that trend.